Monday, June 14, 2010

Thursday, June 14th, 1860

To day I remained home. Hands in the cotton. weather clear & warm.




TEXAS BAPTIST [Anderson, TX], June 14, 1860, p. 3, c. 2. The Dress of Little Girls.


As before intimated, the race of girls is well nigh extinct in America, and, instead of the natural girl of the olden time, we have a kind of nondescript species to which we apply the name of girl. This species is somewhat difficult to describe. In their general conformation, so far as we are able to judge, they have a strong resemblance to real natural girls; but then their habits are very different from those of the natural species. A genuine girl is very much like a boy in her habits; she is free and unrestrained in her movements, disposed to be boisterous, has all the artlessness of childhood, runs, romps, and kicks up her heels, without the fear of man before her eyes, and cares not a pin for dress or the opinions of the world. On the contrary, our modern nondescripts are prim, demure, affected, reserved, stiff, artful, dressy, vain, miniature women. Still they do not seem to be in their element, having a kind of unnatural, amphibious look, like a duck out of water. Occasionally they will break through all restraints, tear their clothes, freely indulge in rude sports, and, in short, act like any other child; but then a lecture on their duties and grave responsibilities as "little ladies," together with some extra dressing, generally recalls them from their wanderings and restores them to the sphere of womanhood.


In dress, they are like women, only a little more so; where low necks are worn by older women, the "little women" wear VERY low ones; where short skirts are worn by the grown ones, our small ones wear very short skirts; where short sleeves are worn only occasionally by the mothers and older sisters, our little tribe of feminines are often seen without any sleeves at all; and while grown women have a semblance of protection at least for the lower extremeties [sic], our embryo women have not even the shadowy protection of lace to cover the parts exposed by the shortness of the skirt. Now, let us ask seriously, what must be the effects, physical and moral, of such absurdities in dressing girls? After what has been said on the importance of preserving proper warmth and circulation in the extremities, in speaking of the dress of infants, it is needless to dwell on the disastrous effects of low necks, no sleeves and unprotected legs in little girls of feeble heat generating powers while undergoing those active changes of all the vital organs which cause a strong predisposition to inflammatory affections. We will only say, then, that so long as the absurd fashions of the day are followed in dressing girls, just so long will those "mysterious dispensations" continue that are daily chronicled in the papers, and that bring such grief and desolation to the family circle.


To speak of the moral effects of fostering a spirit of pride and vanity by useless finery in dressing girls, may rather out of our province; we will only remark, then, that so long as girls are taught from their infancy that their chief attraction consists in the external adornment of their persons, just so long will the cultivation of the mind and the graces of the spirit be neglected; just so long will we have vain, light, frivolous women, who are fitted only to shine in the ball room among men as frivolous as themselves, while they are wholly incapacitated for the solid enjoyments and important duties of domestic life.